Since I originally wrote this article in early July 2011, tons of people have been asking me what I use for my skin. So here you go (and I hassled them to give all my readers a discount): I use EverymanJack (25% discount code is “GREENFIELD”)
If you're like me, you care about your skin looking healthy and good. Frankly the state of skin health scares me when I go to a marathon or a triathlon, or spend time with folks who have been “outdoorsy” much of their lives.
It's like looking at a wrinkled elephant face.
Do people who exercise outdoors just not care about the way their skin is going look when they're 50, 60 or 70?
I personally don't plan on any modeling contracts with cologne manufacturers when I'm that age, but I would prefer that my face and skin not look as much like a dried, ugly prune as many of the faces I've seen at endurance races and outdoor sporting events.
Remember, the skin is a living, breathing organ, and it's one of the biggest organs in your body. It protects your entire body.
So this year, one of the commitments I made was to start taking better care of my face and skin. But not in a complicated, narcissistic, metrosexual, spend-20-minutes-in-front-of-the-mirror-after-every-shower way, mind you.
Instead, I'm just remembering to do a few simple things before and after I go out on a bike ride, finish a swim, or hammer through a sunny (or cold) run.
Here are the 4 easy steps I'm taking to ensure my skin doesn't look like a wrinkled elephant from my outdoor exercise habits:
Anti-Elephant Skin Step #1 Cleanse:
When you cleanse your skin what you're doing is removing the embedded diet and oil, and there are skin-cleansing products out there that have the ability to really get down deep – without having to dip your face into a pan of paint remover.
For example, coconut extracts can clean deep, but in a gentle fashion. Jojoba beads in face scrubs can remove dry and dead skin. Vitamin E can then soothe and moisturize.
And my wife certainly isn't complaining about the nice, minty essence some of these fancy, highfalutin' new skin cleansing products leave on your face.
As you probably have guessed, when I'm rubbing a skin cleanser into my face, I am sure to look for something that is going to make my face nice and shiny clean without making me drop dead of cancer 10 years early. So I look for products with no parabens, no sodium lauryl sulfate, no phthaltates, no dyes, and preferably, just because I love puppies and kittens* as little animal testing as possible.
*Cats are acceptable up to age 4 months, after which I quit liking them and wouldn't mind if they tested skin care products on them.
Anti-Elephant Skin Step #2 Clear (optional):
OK, this step is optional, but I put it in here because I know that some adolescents will read this article, and I know that even some adults have an issue with…
Yes, the big A can wreak nasty, pitted havoc on your face. So if you struggle with Acne, in addition to removing starchy and sugary products from your diet (ask me about that later), you should find a skin clearing formula that contains things like salicylic acid, which can prevent breakouts, aloe and chamomile extracts to soothe the skin, and then some aloe to protect the skin.
So basically, you clean, then you clear.* Easy enough?
*Since cleaning up my diet, I do not struggle with Acne, but I'm not sure that would have made a difference when I was a pock-faced teenage, so I'd highly recommend this step for any of you young folks out there.
Anti-Elephant Skin Step #3 Hydrate:
Dried skin wrinkles very quickly, so once you've cleaned and perhaps cleared, the next step is to hydrate the skin and leave it all moist and supple – the way a prune would look before it's been drained and dried*
Look for non-greasy formulas that won't block pores or irritate skin. These days, a powerful hydrating cream doesn’t have to be heavy or oily, and in fact, the reverse is true. The best creams work through careful formulation rather than an excess of oil or grease.
Ingredients that I look for in a hydrating cream is shea butter and Vitamin E to hydrate, then menthyl and chamomile to soothe…
*Without the purple color.
Anti-Elephant Skin Step #4 Protect:
This is a tricky one for me.
I try to find a balance between not slathering myself in sunscreen every darn time I step out in the sun, but also prudently protecting my face when I plan on being exposed for longer than about 30 minutes.
For sun protection formulas, continue to look for fast absorbing and hydrating elements like organic aloe and vitamin E to hydrate your skin, and broad-spectrum protection from wrinkling UVA and burning UVB rays.
I would recommend you use a different sunscreen on your face than you do on your body – since compared to a liquid sunscreen, a sunscreen stick that is more solid will have less of a tendency to drip and burn your eyes while you're out being active.
And if you just decide to make your own sunscreen, here's a video of how I did it called “Ben Greenfield Makes Natural Sunscreen”.
So that's it!
Cleanse, clear, hydrate and protect, and you'll be well on your way to having cheeks that look like a newborn baby's butt, even if you spend an inordinate amount of time exercising in sunny, outdoor conditions.